The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy changed leadership June 23 when Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers assumed the responsibility as commandant from Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese during a change of responsibility ceremony held in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center, Fort Bliss, Texas. Maj. Gen. John S. Kem, Provost for Army University and Deputy Commandant for the Command and General Staff College, presided over the ceremony and gave remarks after the unit colors were passed between the outgoing and incoming commandants.
“It is an honor to be a part of a ceremony in the best noncommissioned officer academy in the world. It is a place that has always had such a forward look on where our Army needs to go and is such an integral part of it,” Kem said. “That is what stands this academy apart from the others across the world.”
Kem recounted his early years as an officer and said that he was shaped by great NCOs; that throughout his career he has been watching NCOs do their business.
“That’s what this academy is all about, teaching and growing NCOs to continue to lead our Army,” he said. “Our investment and training in the NCO Corps is one of the most important aspects of being a profession. Lots of people have jobs; very few people in our country have professions.”
Kem noted that under the leadership of Defreese, and now under the leadership of Sellers, USASMA will continue to bring the academic rigor to the institution and into the NCO Corps.
At the forefront of this world-class academy for the last few years has been Command Sgt. Maj. Defreese and his wife of 25 years, Jane,” Kem said. “I don’t have to tell you that you have been instrumental in the collective efforts of our senior sergeants major.”
Kem said that Defreese’s efforts, particularly with increasing international partner presence, the Penn State Fellowship, were extremely notable.
“[The fellowship] program is really instrumental to the rigor and long-term viability of the institution because we are raising the faculty level,” Kem said. “We are bringing that faculty together so the student outcomes are naturally better.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Defreese has fulfilled his duties with distinction. Our Army is better for his dedication, duty, selfless service,” Kem said. “As a leader you try to leave the place better than you found it; you become a part of the building.”
Kem said that there is a brick, a “Defreese brick” that Sellers and the Army will continue to build upon that foundation. He also lauded Jane Defreese’s work at the academy particularly taking note of her work with the Spouse Leadership Development Course.
Turning his attention to the incoming commandant, Kem said they were no stranger to the Army or the institution.
“We are happy to have you here and look forward to your leadership,” he said.”
Defreese thanked all for attending and gave a heartfelt thank you to the staff and faculty for their support for the last three years.
“I am sure you are all expecting a long speech, but that just ain’t going to happen,” Defreese said. “I just want to recognize a few phenomenal people and move on and let Jimmy be commandant.”
Turning his attention to the Sellers’, Defreese said, “Have fun. While you are here, enjoy every day. It goes by very fast. I know you will do great things while you are here.
Sellers thanked all for attending.
“What a great day to be a Soldier,” he said. “I feel blessed and humbled to be able to work with the great Army staff here. I will ensure you this awesome responsibility will not be taken lightly.”
Sellers ended saying this is a prominent time for NCOs and USASMA and that he is “excited to have the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and help the process move forward.”
Sellers comes to USASMA from an assignment as the command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Quartermaster School, Fort Lee, Virginia. Defreese will retire from the Army at the end of the month.
USASMA is responsible for developing, maintaining, teaching, and distributing five levels of Enlisted Professional Military Education — Introductory, Primary, Intermediate, Senior and Executive. Each level best prepares the soldier to fight and win in a complex world as adaptive and agile leaders and trusted professionals of Force 2025.